Apple Watch Sleep Tracking & Top Third-Party Sleep Apps

Learn how to track sleep on your Apple Watch, understand sleeping heart rate dip, and discover other valuable sleep metrics.

If you like to use your Apple Watch for health tracking purposes, you should set up sleep tracking. We'll show you how to use the Apple Watch Sleep feature and analyze your sleep graph to create a healthy bedtime routine. We'll also give you a breakdown of various sleep cycle apps, plus my personal pick for the best sleep app for your Apple Watch.

Related to: The 10 Best Health & Fitness Apps for Body & Mind

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Apple Watch Sleep Tracking Features

There are quite a few sleep-related functions that your Apple Watch is capable of performing. These include:

  • Sleep goals to help you sleep the right number of hours
  • Reminders that you should get ready for bed to make sure you get enough sleep
  • A selection of alarm sounds and haptics to start your morning off right
  • Sleep mode to help you wind down and avoid distractions prior to hitting the hay
  • Vitals and motion tracking to measure how restful your sleep is

You can manage all of these in the Health app once you set up tracking. To learn more Apple Watch tricks, sign up for our free Tip of the Day newsletter.

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How to Set Up Sleep Tracking on Apple Watch

You don't need fancy apps to track your sleep, since the built-in Apple Watch sleep monitor syncs with the Health app on your iPhone. To set up sleep tracking on an Apple Watch, follow the steps below. 

  1. Open the Health app on your iPhone.

    Open the Health app on your iPhone.
     
  2. Tap Sleep.

    Open Sleep in the Health app.
     
  3. Tap Get Started, then tap Next.

    Get Started to set up sleep tracking.
     
  4. Set a Sleep Goal using the plus and minus icons, then tap Next.

    Set a Sleep Goal using the plus and minus buttons. Then tap Next.
     
  5. Set up your schedule by dragging the bed icon to your preferred bedtime and the alarm icon to your preferred wake-up time.
  6. You can also select the days for this schedule and have a different schedule for certain days of the week.
  7. Tap Add, then Next.

    Set up your schedule by dragging the bed to your preferred bedtime and the alarm to your preferred wake-up time.
     
  8. Tap Enable Sleep Mode to automatically turn on Do Not Disturb at your scheduled bedtime.
  9. You can also tap Skip to skip this step.

    Tap Enable Sleep Mode to automatically turn on Do Not Disturb at your scheduled bedtime.
  10. Tap Enable to track sleep with Apple Watch, then tap Done.

    Tap Enable to track sleep with Apple Watch, then tap Done.

Once this is set up, all you need to do is go to sleep with your Apple Watch on, and it will do the rest. Make sure that your watch is more than 30 percent charged, or the battery might run out in the middle of the night.

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Where to Find Your Apple Watch Sleep Graph 

The Apple Watch sleep tracker will put all your sleep stats in an easy-to-understand graph. It will also break it down by individual days to see when you go to bed and wake up. You can even see your average sleep duration based on the data it gathers!

To see your sleep graph:

  1. Open the Health app on your iPhone.

    Open the Health app on your iPhone.
     
  2. Tap Sleep.

    Open Sleep in the Health app.
     
  3. Tap Show More Sleep Data.

    Tap Show More Sleep Data
     
  4. You'll now see a more detailed screen that includes the sleep graph and other information.

    Apple Watch Sleep Tracking

Even if you don't sleep in your Apple Watch, the time with your watch off and charging will be recorded as time in bed. Although, the days you wore your watch will be a darker shade of blue, while the days you didn't will be light blue. 

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How to Edit Apple Watch Alarm Sounds & Haptics

We all have individual preferences on the best ways to wake up. Your Apple Watch offers haptics, a unique kinetic way of communicating with you through vibrations. These can be set to different intensities and rhythms based on your preference.

  1. Open the Health app on your iPhone.

    Open the Health app on your iPhone.
     
  2. Tap Sleep.

    Open Sleep in the Health app.
     
  3. Under Your Schedule, tap Edit. You will have to set up your schedule before you can edit this.

    Under Your Schedule, tap Edit.
     
  4. Under Alarm Options, you can toggle on Wake Up Alarm

    Under Alarm Options, you can toggle Wake Up Alarm.
     
  5. Next, tap Sounds & Haptics.

    Next, tap Sounds & Haptics.
     
  6. Here you can tap the different options to hear and feel how they will wake you up. The haptics begin first to wake you up more gently, and then the music begins playing quietly and gets progressively louder as the alarm continues.

    Here you can tap the different options to hear and feel how they will wake you up.
     
  7. Tap Vibration.

    Tap Vibration. Here you can pick your favorite haptic melody or even create a custom one.
     
  8. Here you can pick your favorite haptic rhythm or even create a custom one.
  9. You can also tap None if you prefer a sound-only alarm.

    Here you can pick your favorite haptic melody or even create a custom one.
     
  10. Your changes will save automatically.
  11. Tap Sounds & Haptics and then Back to keep editing your settings.

    Your changes will save automatically; you can go back to Sounds & Haptics then Back again to keep editing your settings.
     
  12. Next, you can drag the volume slider to change the loudness of the alarm and the intensity of the vibrations.

    Next, you can drag the volume slider to change the loudness of the alarm and the intensity of the vibrations.
     
  13. You can also tap the Snooze toggle if you want the option to snooze your Apple Watch alarm.

    You can also toggle if you want to have an option to Snooze when your alarm rings.
     
  14. Tap Done to save your changes.

    Tap Done to save your changes.

Once this is set up, the alarm will go off on your Apple Watch if you wear it to bed, or on your iPhone if you're not wearing your watch.

Pro Tip: If your schedule changes unexpectedly, you can always change your alarm for just the upcoming day. Open the Clock app and tap Change under Sleep | Wake Up. Once you toggle off the alarm, you'll be asked if you want to change the alarm schedule altogether, or just for that day.

Open the Clock app and tap Change under Sleep | Wake Up.

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Best Sleep Tracker Apps

Although the stock Apple Watch sleep tracking feature is excellent for basic functions, some great third-party apps offer more in-depth analysis of your sleep patterns, such as the ability to detect how long you remain in various stages of sleep.

1. AutoSleep ($3.99)

AutoSleep app for sleep tracking.

AutoSleep has a similar look to the sleep graph in your Health app, but it offers a lot more insight. It analyzes the quality of your sleep and provides a slightly confusing but very thorough graph of the exact times you were in deep sleep, light sleep, or restless. Since it's a paid app, you won't have to deal with ads at all. For a one-time $3.99 fee, you can enjoy a seamless sleep tracking experience that you can't always get from free sleep apps.

2. Sleep Watch by Bodymatter (Free)

leep Watch by Bodymatter for sleep tracking.

Sleep Watch is a free app that focuses on health. It uses your Apple Watch to track your sleep automatically and employs artificial intelligence to help track, analyze, and improve your sleeping habits. One of the coolest functions of the Sleep Watch app is sleeping heart rate dip analysis. Every night it will tell you how much your heart rate went down while you slept. Generally, lower dips are considered better (as long as they're within a healthy range), because they tend to indicate more restful sleep.

Every morning, the app will ask you how rested you feel. If there is anything unusual about your sleep, it will also ask you what you did differently. In my experience, I noticed that on days I exercised more or did a physical activity right before sleep, I experienced a much lower dip than on nights when I drank caffeine or was more sedentary. The easy-to-use interface and holistic health focus of this app makes it one of the best free options.

3. Sleep++ (Free)

Sleep++ app for sleep tracking.

Sleep++ is a free sleep-tracking app made by the same developer as Pedometer++, my favorite step-counting app. This app is a little more simplistic than Sleep Watch, but it does offer a lot of information about your sleep quality and duration. It also includes a great Trends page, showing you your nightly trends, sleeping heart rate, sleep duration score, and bedtime consistency score.

4. Sleep Cycle (Free)

Sleep Cycle app for sleep tracking.

Sleep Cycle is a free app, although they do have a paid version for $29.99 per year. The premium option offers many extra functions like smart alarms, sleep aid, and mood recordings for when you wake up. Sleep Cycle's free version will record any sounds that happen at night, and detects sleep talking, coughing, and more. One thing that isn't ideal is that the app requires you to have your phone placed flat next to your bed, so if you have a wireless charging station that holds your phone upright, you may need to use a different charger.

5. Prime Sleep Recorder (Free)

Prime Sleep Recorder app for sleep tracking.

With a 4.5-star average rating from over 9,000 users, you can assume that Prime Sleep Recorder is doing something right. This free app records you talking and snoring while you are asleep and lets you listen to it in the morning. The paid version of the app costs $3.99 per month, or $11.99 if you opt for the one-time fee. 

There are also a few paid extensions you can choose if you do pay the one-time fee. These include smart alarms for $3.99, stop snoring for $3.99 (this uses light haptics to stop you from snoring), and sleepy sounds for $3.99. Another great thing about the app is that it uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve its accuracy.

The answer to ‘does my Apple Watch track sleep’ is a definite yes! However, there many options to choose from, both included with your Apple Watch and available by third-party developers. The Apple Watch's built-in sleep tracker is a great choice, but it doesn’t offer the most user-friendly sleep cycle graph. In my opinion, the best sleep tracking app for Apple Watch is Sleep Watch by Bodymatter. Which ones have you tried?

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Author Details

Olena Kagui's picture

Author Details

Olena Kagui

Olena Kagui is a Feature Writer at iPhone Life who lives in Rhode Island. With a BA in International Relations from Anglo American University, Olena traveled the world. She has lived in Ukraine, the Czech Republic, China, and the USA. Olena won an excellence award for a controversial article, got a grant to blog from a war-zone, and published a short fictional story. She hopes to publish a full-length novel and continue writing up a storm on her blog The Travel Bug Bite! When she’s not typing or flying, she is loving on animals, crafting bizarre creations, and devouring all-you-can-eat sushi.